Rex Rozario, Part 2: The Beat Goes on: New Developments at Exeter, the Music Scene, and China

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Matties: You certainly have a rich history.

DSG-panels.jpgRozario: Yes, but getting back to China, we learned as we went along. When employing people, we had to train them and started a training school. On a shop floor now in China about 60% are graduates and they can speak English, which made this much easier. Then we realized when comparing with our competitors that some of the big companies were losing about 40–50% of shop floor staff yearly. They come, they get trained and then they go home and get a job near home, and don’t come back.

Matties: A common problem there.

Rozario: It's continuous training. Then we realized how fortunate we were to pick this staff situation up so quickly and automate. From then on we were looking to automate everything we bought. Some automation wasn't available, because most people are quite happy to have manual labor for loading, unloading and so forth.

Matties: Especially in China where labor was cheap.

Rozario: Absolutely. They had four guys for one machine. In the end we chose to automate and you saw the factory. It's probably one of the very few fully-automated PCB factories. By that time we also designed things to suit us. In China we used pinless bonding. You saw the presses designed to our specification. Although we have many press platens, spacing is limited, more or less two inches. We can control the heat and pressure. We can do very complex boards and still maintain. No movement or anything like that. Our yields in China, same as here, 98.8% has been our average. If you're manufacturing rigid-flex, most competitors would be lucky to get between 60 and 80%. Usually it's less than that. Unless you are over 90%, you can't make any money.

Matties: Do you attribute that high yield to the level of automation that you put in? What is the cause for such success?

Rozario: One reason is the automation, but also the design, equipment, technology and the experience that some competitors don't have. That is a plus. Certainly the automation helps, because the less handled, or man handled, the fewer deficiencies. That's working for us. We kicked off real production in 2008.


Matties: You built the factory from the ground up also?

Rozario: Oh yeah. When we looked at it, and to our advantage mind you, this was just a bit of land with nothing on it. If there was something on it then the price would've been different. We picked it up, but then again in China, you actually don't own the land.

It's got to be a local guy and they introduced somebody who bought the land and then built the factory to our specification. Of course, working from ground level helps a lot because you saw the effluent plant, and you saw the underground piping for anything to spill into. It's two meters down, or nearly six feet.

Matties: It's fantastic. A really a great shop.

Rozario: You can walk down there to all to the machinery and so forth. This is why, even in China, straight away within weeks of opening it up we had ISO 9000 and ISO 14000, for the environment. In China, not many companies even thought about it.

Not many companies in Europe or the U.S. even have ISO 14000. That's for tighter controls of effluent that goes down. Then we have Nadcap in China and again that's the military approval and not many U.S. or other companies around the world have it, except the big guys who have the approvals.

We can manufacture anything in China that we can manufacture here in the UK, but in higher volume and with better yields and obviously a competitive price. We will supply anybody who wants it. Sometimes we supply the competition that doesn't make our type of product. It saves them from investing and doing all the experimental work and whatever. They make a margin and it's their customer. That's working very well for us. As I said, the production is over $50 million and that's not bad considering we started in 2008 and many competitors were already there.

Now we're looking at getting to the $100 million mark. I know there's a slow down at the moment. That won't last very long, because obviously the world is our oyster for selling high-tech PCBs.



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